Thursday, March 10, 2011

Burntcore Week 42: Picture Perfect


Picture 1

Picture 2

Burntcore's Choice: Picture 2

Picture Perfect

It was picture perfect: a couple’s first kiss while picking berries. A photographer couldn’t have asked for a better setting. The sun was just right, the mountains in the background were vibrant and clear. What was lacking? Faithfulness. Trust. Loyalty.


Because that man in the picture was my fiance... and the woman he was kissing was not me.

How I came across this photo was strictly accidental. See, I had a photographer friend, a relatively new friend who hadn’t met my fiance yet, and I was visiting at her studio. I was considering hiring her to do our wedding photography. Some of her work had been featured in the local paper and I liked her grasp of color and texture in photographs. It wasn’t a mere image, a moment frozen in time, but a work of art. So I made plans to stop by and look at some more of her work, especially from the weddings she had done, so I could get a better idea of her abilities.

As we were chatting over coffee, I flipped through some of the pictures she had in a spiral-bound book. The pictures were amazing, just like her work in the paper. Not all of them were of weddings, some were just of everyday life or posed portraits. She and I had built up a good rapport very quickly and she was jotting down a few notes on some of the things I wanted in our wedding package.

She didn’t even ask where my fiance was. Perhaps she was used to the men not really being involved in the majority of the wedding plans. Sean certainly was one of those. He wanted input on the cake, some of the music, and the tuxes. He said he trusted my judgement and taste with the photography and the flowers and the other decorations. I knew he would be happy with Julie. She was truly gifted with the lens.

I had just finished going through the first book of pictures when she brought her laptop over to the table. She explained that she wanted to show me some fo the more recent work she had done and some of the neat digital manipulations she could do to really make my wedding photos pop.

She clicked through a couple of photo albums on her computer, talking all the while, until I froze and my blood ran cold. Trying not think the worst of things, I asked her to stop on a particular picture, the picture perfect photo.

“Julie, where was this taken?” I asked, trying to sound a normal as possible while my heart was beating a mile a minute.

“Oh, at the Honeydale Berry Farm down Route 20. I was there taking photos of the farm for the owners when I came across this couple. I caught them right as they were leaning in for the kiss. It was such a sweet moment.”

I tried to fight the bile that was threatening to come up. As gently as I could, I pushed my coffee cup away from me.

“I thought I recognized that place. That was definitely a very sweet moment. Did you catch the name of the couple?”

Julie thought for a moment before answering. “I think he said his name was Sean and his girlfriend’s name was Rachel.”

Rachel? Didn’t Sean tell me he worked with a Rachel?

“Um, how recent is this picture?”

Julie seemed surprised by my interest in this particular picture but shrugged and checked which day she had been at Honeydale Berry Farm.

“Looks like I was there about three weeks ago. I knew it was fairly recently but couldn't remember exactly when.”

“This may sound like a strange request, but may I have a copy of this picture?”

Julie looked me strangely. “May I ask why?”

“Sure,” I replied as the fire in my belly started to spread. “I need to show it to my fiance, Sean, and ask him when he was going to tell me he was cheating on me.”

I spoke very matter-of-factly, when I really wanted to scream and shout. I wanted to find where that lying snake was and rip him a new one. However, I wasn’t going to sink to that level. I was better than that. Taking a deep breath, I buried those feelings of hurt, anger, and betrayal until I could deal with them later on.

Julie’s face drained of color as she looked back and forth between myself and the picture on the screen.

“Oh my God, are you serious?”

“As a heart attack.” I pulled my phone out of my purse and flipped through one of the picture galleries I had stored there. Picture after picture of Sean and I in various points of our relationship through the years.

“Anna, I had no idea,” Julie whispered.

“I know you didn’t. So, as much as I would love for you to take our wedding photographs, I don’t think there is going to be a wedding, at least not between Sean and I,” I said softly.

Julie nodded quietly and quickly printed a copy of the photo. I looked at the paper image in front of me coolly. The detail wasn’t as good as on the computer screen, but it had only been printed on regular paper and not photo paper. I didn’t mind. I could still tell who it was in the picture and I certainly wouldn’t want Julie to use up her expensive photo paper on something that was probably going to go in the trash by the end of the day.

“Anna, I don’t know what to say.”

“There really isn’t much you can say. You’ve helped me more than you can possibly realize. I will always be thankful for that.”

I folded up the picture and placed it in my purse. I gently caressed the two carat engagement ring that rested on my left ring finger. I couldn’t wait to rip it off and shove it so far down his cheating throat that he
choked on it.

Julie walked me out of the studio, her face still shocked. I stood tall and proud, not willing to let some man, some lying cheating douche-bag, bring me down. I was above this. I was above his games.

The day in question from the picture, he had told me he was working some overtime, trying to save up some extra money for the wedding. When he came home, he carried a couple of pints of fresh berries that he said he picked up at the store on the way home. I was touched by his sweet gesture, as strawberries were my favorite fruit. I used them that night for dessert.

When I got home to our apartment --well, my apartment since he moved in with me and the place was in my name—I started packing up all of his crap. I had some cardboard boxes laying around in a closet and started filling them up. I wasn’t going to stoop to his level. I wasn’t going to be one of those women who torched their cheating man’s stuff or just throw it in the box willy-nilly. No, I was still civil. I carefully boxed everything up, making the most of the space in each box. Taking my time meant I was less likely to miss something, which meant one less time I’d have to see him again

I had just finished packing up the third box when the man of the hour finally graced me with his presence. His eyes narrowed as he noticed a few things were missing in the living room, a few things that were his. He walked slowly through the house, his footfalls muffled by the carpeting in the hallway.

“Anna? Are you home?”

“Sure am,” I called cheerily, as I taped up the box.

Sean’s tall frame paused in the doorway, his eyes wide as he took in the scene before him.

“What’s going on? What are you packing?”

“Oh I think you know what is going on, Sean,” I replied sweetly. “And, I’m packing your stuff so you can get the hell out of my apartment.”


He had the gall to sound surprised by all of this.

“Do you have a hearing problem? Because I know you have another problem. Perhaps they are related.”

“Anna, what the hell are you talking about?”

I calmly stopped what I was doing, walked over to the dresser and grabbed the photo. I laid it on top of the box I had just finished taping and placed my engagement ring on top of it.

“That’s what I’m talking about. Now get the hell out. I’ll call you later when you can pick up your stuff. Oh, and leave your key.”

Sean’s face drained of color, similar to how Julie’s had, but the guilty look in his eyes was all Sean.

“Where did you get this picture?”

“Does it matter? The fact is I found it. Enough said. Now get out.”

“I can explain,” he insisted, with a pouty face that used to get him out of trouble before. Not anymore.

“I don’t really care what excuses you have, Sean. You lied to me. You betrayed me. You told me you were working that day. I guess you were working on something or someone else. So it’s over. I’m done. Take your fucking ring and get the hell out before I call the cops.”

Sean backed up a few steps but didn’t leave the room. “Anna, honey-“

“You really DO have a hearing problem!” I said, my voice raising. “Now get the fuck out of my apartment!”

The bastard still stood there, like there was anything he could say to justify what he did. Taking a deep breathe to calm myself, I grabbed my phone from my bed, dialed 911, and hit the speakerphone button.

“911, what is your emergency?”

“Hi, my name is Anna Rodriguez and I have a trespasser in my apartment who refuses to leave. I need him to be escorted from the premises.”

Sean’s eyes grew as big as saucers. He took a step back into the hallway, shaking his head from side to side.

“Okay, ma’am, I have already dispatched a unit to your location. Are you in any danger?”

“I’m not, but I can’t say the same for my intruder if he doesn’t leave.”

“Okay, ma’am, just remain calm. Police are on their way.”

“Thank you,” I said firmly and disconnected the call.

I stared at Sean with an arched eyebrow, daring him to do something, anything, as long as it involved vacating my apartment.

“Anna, what are you doing?” he whispered.

“I am moving on with my life. Now, unless you want to be arrested, I suggest you leave.”

“Won’t you let me explain?” he pleaded.

I had tried to be patient. I had tried to be nice, but this asshole was really pushing my buttons. I grabbed my engagement ring, rushed over and pushed him hard into the wall of the hallway. He was much bigger than I was, but I caught him off guard.

“There is nothing to explain,” I seethed. “Now get the fuck out!”

I put all my energy into shoving him down the hallway. As we approached the door, I could hear sirens getting closer. I let him go only long enough to open my front door.


“Anna, baby-“

Completely infuriated, I heaved, pushed, and shoved him through my front door. He stood there on the other side of the threshold completely dumbfounded. Two police officers were coming up the stairs and watched with interest.

“And stay out, you lousy piece of shit!” I hollered and threw my engagement ring at him. He ducked, like a pussy, earning a snicker from one of the officers standing behind him.

“Ma’am, are you okay?” the other officer asked.

“I’ll be fine once this unfaithful, lying piece of garbage leaves, Officer. Thank you for coming so quickly.”

Sean stepped towards me again, reaching out to me.

“Ah, I don’t think so, mister,” one of the officer said as they grabbed Sean’s arms from behind him and roughly pulled him back.

The officer continued to escort Sean out of the building while his partner asked me a few questions about the disturbance. About fifteen minutes later, they left, making sure Sean was off the property. I told the police that Sean could call me later in the week to pick up his stuff.